It’s the best time of the year... Get plan­ning and plant­ing for your best-ever spring bulb dis­play

Just wait for a roar of ap­proval when your spring dis­play ex­plodes

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - March Contents -

got great ex­pec­ta­tions? Now’s the time to do the ground­work to en­sure your spring­time gar­den is its most spec­tac­u­lar ever.

Spring-flow­er­ing bulbs are the sleep­ing gi­ants of your gar­den, so tuck them in now, keep them in the dark and, when the longer days ar­rive, they’ll wake with a roar.

Plan for a mass choir of daf­fodils or tulips or get a rous­ing state­ment from a tall stand of grace­ful irises. You can theme your dis­play in one colour and go for a profusion of el­e­gant whites, or opt for two colours with a vi­brant clash of pur­ples and or­anges.

Or you can cre­ate a riot across your front lawn with a ca­coph­ony of colour – aban­don the re­straints of fash­ion to com­bine all the tex­tures, colours, stripes and spots of flow­er­ing spring bulbs to make a wild­flower gar­den.

What­ever your plan, your gar­den will keep sur­pris­ing you week af­ter glo­ri­ous week from late win­ter to the end of spring.


Most bulbs pre­fer a sunny spot to grow, but shouldn’t be ex­posed to the fierce western sun. They pre­fer welldrained soils, but if you have a sandy soil, dig in com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure to in­crease or­ganic mat­ter.

If your soil is clay, it’s full of nu­tri­ents, but drainage can be a prob­lem. By ap­ply­ing or­ganic mat­ter, you en­cour­age soil or­gan­isms that cre­ate mul­ti­ple tiny al­ley­ways for ex­cess wa­ter to drain away.

Clear the gar­den bed and till the soil. Plant bulbs pointy end up at a depth of two or three times their height, and space apart by about two or three times the width of the bulb.

If you’re mix­ing your bulbs, make a rough es­ti­mate of how much space the even­tual fo­liage will need. If the bulbs are too close to­gether, the fo­liage will get cramped. If they are too far apart, the fi­nal drama of the mass bloom­ing can be di­min­ished.

Sprin­kle the bed with a slowre­lease fer­tiliser. Pro­duc­ing flow­ers is the most en­er­gy­de­mand­ing part of a plant’s life and hun­gry bulbs will pro­duce dis­ap­point­ing blooms. Wa­ter reg­u­larly to keep the soil moist, but not sod­den. Too much wa­ter can cause the bulbs to rot.

Tall tulips on the march bring re­lief af­ter the dark of win­ter


• Some of the pret­ti­est shade-lov­ing bulbs are snow­drops (Galan­thus sp.). They make a de­light­ful dance when planted en masse un­der a de­cid­u­ous tree where the grass strug­gles, and draw up nu­tri­ents from the up­per soil when the tree is in­ac­tive.

• Cro­cuses come in white, yel­low, or­ange, pur­ple and even spot­ted. Use them to brighten up a shady spot in your gar­den. Or show off their pretty lit­tle pe­tals against the back­drop of a rock­ery.

• The tiny, up­side-down, urn-shaped flow­ers of the grape hyacinth come in clus­ters of white, blue or pur­ple. They’re neat and com­pact so are per­fect for path edges and small enough to sit in front of your mass plant­ing to keep every­thing in or­der.


If you want a vase of cut tulips, pick them be­fore the buds open. Leave fo­liage in the gar­den as bulbs need to re-ab­sorb the nu­tri­ents. Cut off any other leaves at­tached to the stem so you don’t spoil the vase wa­ter. Snip off a few cen­time­tres of the stem with a sharp knife or scis­sors and cut at an angle to help the stem ab­sorb more wa­ter.

Choose a vase that’s more than half as tall as the tulips, oth­er­wise the stems will wilt over the side and die more quickly. Fill the vase with cold wa­ter, not warm, and re­fresh ev­ery day. This way you don’t need to add a flo­ral preser­va­tive.

Dis­play the tulips out of di­rect sun­light and away from di­rect heat or they will wilt more quickly. Fi­nally, never com­bine tulips with pa­per­white nar­cis­sus or daf­fodils be­cause the lat­ter two ex­ude a sub­stance that will cause the tulips to wilt faster.

The el­e­gant iris rises above the crowd and makes a bold state­ment with its beau­ti­fully pat­terned pe­tals.


Ra­nun­culi are perky and play­ful and their lay­ers of colour­ful and var­ie­gated pe­tals make crazy seem per­fect. They will give you weeks of vi­brant colour to wel­come in the change of sea­son.

Galan­thus sp.

White grape hyacinth is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar and the up­right clus­ters of bauble-like blooms make a pretty con­trast to the grace­ful tulips and daf­fodils.

Be bold with colour by mix­ing bright yel­lows, deep pur­ples and vi­brant reds with splashes of or­ange and pink.

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